We recently received a few issues of an independent comic series to look at called Ministry, by Lara Phillips. As a big departure from our usual Marvel or DC reviews, I definitely wasn’t sure what to expect going in. Let’s see how it turned out.
The story here is about a man who is condemned to work in a secret government facility, where he learns of horrible secret experiments that were once conducted by said government. From there, things become much more complex as he learns more details about these experiments and encounters some of its victims. Detail-wise, I’m not always entirely sure what happens, because the writing is a little confusing at times. But that could very well be intentional, because mystery seems to be a key theme throughout this series. As an example, there was a character introduced in the first issue, but I don’t really understand what happened to him, if anything. A similar character, in both name and appearance, shows up in the third issue, but I haven’t figured out if they’re supposed to be the same person or not. But, again, maybe I’m not supposed to know that yet. I was able to understand the overall story, though, and while I’m not completely blown away, I do think it’s decent so far. The characters and plot certainly have a lot of promise. But there are times when the dialogue feels a bit weak, particularly during heavily narrated or introspective moments. I think perhaps those instances could stand to be a bit less wordy, because subtlety would feel more natural in the context. But not TOO subtle, because these narrative moments do provide important details that would definitely hurt the story if lost.
The artwork, I find, has a great deal of potential, but is somewhat hindered by the heavy usage of black. Being only a black and white comic, there’s obviously not a lot of options, of course, but a little more white space in some areas couldn’t hurt. Although, I don’t really hold that against the art that much, because all the black does fit the story’s atmosphere very well, and thus may be a deliberate stylistic choice that I’d have trouble faulting. But as for the penciling style, there’s definitely talent present, but some things appear a tad unpolished at times. For example, facial features are generally well done, but the addition of tears or blood doesn’t always seem to mesh well. There are a few other instances where things look a bit off, but for the most part, it’s definitely not bad. The cover artwork, meanwhile, is very very plain. I don’t know if it was a stylistic choice, or something done due to a lack of resources or other options, but the point still stands. This isn’t to say they’re ugly, because they’re not, but rather that they might not grab one’s eyes on a passing glance.
So, overall, I think this series is a decent read thus far, but could use a little more fine-tuning in both the writing and art departments. I wasn’t totally overwhelmed by it, but I definitely think it has the potential to grow into something great.
Writing: B (A few weak points, but the story is building up fairly well.)
Art: B+ (Definitely not bad, but could be improved in a few areas.)
Cover: B- (Rather bland, and could use something a bit more striking, if possible.)
Overall: B (Not bad, and clearly has potential to be even better.)
Ministry TM and © Lara Phillips. All rights reserved.